Kenya 2022: Controversial end to presidential election, smooth transition?

By Son Gatitu
Posted on Monday, 15 August 2022 19:35

Kenya's election results are announced
People engage in a scuffle with the security officials as they block the IEBC chairman from making election result announcement at the IEBC National Tallying Centre at the Bomas of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya August 15, 2022. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi

Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto has been declared winner of the 9 August presidential election, albeit in a contested process against Raila Odinga. Ahead of the announcement, four commissioners from the seven-member team addressed the media distancing themselves from the outcome that was yet to be announced by the electoral body chairman Wafula Chebukati. What does this mean for the presidential transition?

The independent electoral and boundaries commission had sent out an invitation to the media for a 3:00pm announcement of the presidential election outcome. The Bomas of Kenya, which hosted the National Tallying Centre, had been the centre of attention for the better part of Monday, as Kenyans awaited the arrival of presidential candidates and the IEBC commissioners.

On Sunday night, IEBC commissioners had announced presidential election results from 259 constituencies, with 31 remaining along with the total votes from the diaspora.

By Monday morning, leaders from both the Kenya Kwanza Alliance (Ruto’s camp) and the Azimio la Umoja alliance (Raila’s) began arriving at the Bomas of Kenya with both sides expressing confidence they were going to be declared winner.  At exactly 3:00pm, Ruto arrived at the Bomas accompanied by his wife (Rachel) and mother (Sarah Cheruiyot).

False calm

Ruto was kept waiting as word spread that Chebukati was being asked to not declare the presidential election outcome. After 4:30pm, Raila’s chief agent Saitabao Kanchory claimed that the election results were not verifiable, marking the start of Raila’s rejection of the election outcome.

“Bomas of Kenya (has been) a crime scene, as Kenyans were busy awaiting the outcome of this election, members of the commission led by Chebukati were busy manipulating the outcome,” Kanchory claimed.

The IEBC had been processing results from across 46,229 polling stations by receiving original result declaration forms and matching them against what had been transmitted electronically to the national tallying centre.  “We have intelligence reports that their system was penetrated and hacked and that some of the IEBC officials actually committed electoral offences,” Kanchory said.

The official results declared Ruto a winner with 7,176,141 (50.49%), and Raila behind him with 6,942,930 (48.85%).

Divided house

In the midst of the claims, four commissioners of the IEBC left the Bomas of Kenya for a city hotel and addressed the media, partly rehashing Kanchory’s claims. “We cannot take ownership of the result that is going to be announced because of the opaque nature of this last phase of the general election,” said Juliana Cherera, the IEBC Vice Chair.

I stand before you today despite the intimidation and harassment. I took oath of office to defend the constitution.

Cherera was accompanied by commissioners Irene Masit, Justus Nyang’aya (in charge of ICT) and Francis Wanderi. All the four were appointed in September 2021 after years of an incomplete commission following resignation of four other commissioners in October 2017 and April 2018 who fled the institution following political disagreements.

In a chaotic afternoon, as Cherera and the team were addressing the media, Chebukati attempted to take the podium at the Bomas to declare the election outcome. Azimio allied politicians grew rowdy, forcing security officers to move out Chebukati to safety.

Minutes later Ruto, his running mate Rigathi Gachagua and their families walked into the Bomas of Kenya and waited to be declared. A shaken Chebukati returned to the auditorium and acknowledged that there had been attempts to stop him from doing his job. “I stand before you today despite the intimidation and harassment. I took oath of office to defend the constitution,” Chebukati said.

Endangered officials

During the election week, a senior election official from Nairobi’s Embakasi East Constituency, Daniel Musyoka was reported to have disappeared. Chebukati stated that Musyoka was yet to be found adding: “Right now two of my commissioners and [the] CEO have been injured and are being treated.”

Even though he didn’t specify which commissioners were injured, given that four addressed the media on Monday, the only missing persons remained Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu who have served with the chairman since January 2017, along with Marjan Hussein Marjan who is the commission CEO.

Chebukati further alleged that, some of his staff,  “[had] been arrested for no reason, some [picked] from [the] tallying centre.”

IEBC bias?

In the run up to the general election Azimio camp had been alleging that IEBC was biased against them. On several occasions during the campaigns, Ruto had called out Azimio for faulting IEBC. “The hero of this election is the IEBC led by Wafula Chebukati,”

Upon being declared president elect, Ruto said: “The IEBC amazed all of us. With the results in the public portal, all the servers were open… all you needed is a simple calculator and you have the results.”

Whatever person whether it is the commissioners or political camp, they have the right to go to court.

As Raila seeks a way forward, Cherera said together with the other three commissioners they would release more details on the ‘opaqueness’.

“People can go to court and the rule of law will prevail,” she said.

In an evening address to the media on Monday, Ruto dared those who opposed the outcome to proceed to court. “Whatever person whether it is the commissioners or political camp, they have the right to go to court.”

Raila is yet to speak about the election outcome to which his running mate Martha Karua tweeted: “It is not over till it is over.”

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